The Friday Funblast — April 30, 2021

Well, here we find ourselves. Stop me if you've heard this before, but the FC lost. Again. They got blown out. Again. And they looked completely overmatched by the opposition. Again. And I find myself asking, surely this has to get better sometime, right? Anyway, off we go for another edition of the Funblast!

FC CINCINNATI PLAYS THE GREATEST HITS

I don’t need to spend time recapping Saturday’s match against NYCFC. You watched it (though, I wouldn’t have blamed you for changing the channel to a rerun of “House Hunters” or throwing on the finale of “Falcon & Winter Soldier”). You saw the five goals. You saw the utter lack of ability to break the press, hold possession and build an attack. Honestly, other than the half-empty stadium, you would have been forgiven for wondering if Star 64 was showing a re-run from 2019 or 2020. It was more of the same, stupid bullshit we’ve been watching for the past two years where the team folded like a cheap suit defensively and took more shots to the face than Nashville bachelorette party.

A better use of your time than watching FCC.

In the aftermath of the match, we were treated to breakdowns of how all five goals were conceded off set pieces, people making excuses that many of the goals were simply unlucky breaks for FC Cincinnati. There was, predictably, fan anger. There was also, predictably, anger at said anger. There is / was an emerging portion of the FC Cincinnati fanbase calling for patience.

To which I respond — fucking why?

What the fuck has Jaap Stam or Gerard Nijkamp done, exactly, to earn the patience of this fanbase?

Let’s start with Stam, because he’s the easier case here. I respect Jaap Stam for being an incredible soccer player. He was a legend at Manchester United and has forgotten more about the sport than I could learn in five lifetimes. But, we didn’t sign Jaap Stam to play center back for FC Cincinnati (though, even at 48 years old, he might be the best option at this point); we signed Jaap Stam to fucking manage this club. And Jaap Stam the manager has been, to put it bluntly, incredibly mediocre throughout his career. His longest stint (at Reading in England) was only 2 seasons long ended with him quitting on a team mid-season that would go on to finish 20th on the table with a -22 GD. After leaving Reading, he did two partial seasons — one at PEC Zwolle and one at Feyenoord — that were completely forgettable. And now, since joining FC Cincinnati he’s managed to win four (4) fucking games in 22 tries.

Given all of this, why is anyone convinced that Jaap is suddenly going to morph into this great manager who can take us to the promised land? What about Jaap — in Cincinnati or at any point in his managerial career — gives you confidence that he can turn this ship around? It hasn’t worked for him at 3 consecutive stops, and he’s now rocking a robust 18% winning percentage since taking over on the sidelines here. What will “more time” reveal to us about Jaap Stam that we don’t already know? Is another 20-30 games going to suddenly reveal new things about him? Is he going to change who / what he is? If you’re answering “yes” or “maybe” here, I’d suggest that’s some fairytale fucking thinking.

Jaap's Record. #NotGreat

As far as Gerard Nijkamp, there’s a lot more to talk about. I could run through the list and break down every one of his signings thus far, but the question to ask yourself is this: Is there any move he’s made thus far that you’d call a home run? You look at the 2020 DP class for FC Cincinnati and it isn’t pretty: Locadia (Bust), Kubo (the most useless thing to come out of Japan since the HD-DVD), Cruz (stuck to the bench). His non-DP moves haven’t exactly been great either. Is there a single one of Barreal, Mokotjo, Medunjanin, or Pettersson that you’d really say has been a great pickup? Anyone? Bueller?

Even going beyond individual player analysis, defending Nijkamp also means defending the utterly baffling roster construction The FC has engaged in under his watch. We had to spend $250,000 in Tricky Don Funbucks to get into roster compliance because of our reliance on moderately talented international signings. What makes it all the more infuriating is that we’re just outright missing complete roles on the fucking roster, which is why we have a winger (Joe Gyau) playing right back and a striker / winger (the aforementioned Kubo) playing defensive mid. And that’s not even getting into the fact that we’re playing a SuperDraft pick in Match 1. How the fuck, on a planet with approximately 2 billion soccer playing adults, do you run out of international signing spots and just forget to sign people for these roles? Or have backups ready when one of them gets hurt or nope off because we won’t sign him to a new contract? What the fuck is the plan here?

So, I once again ask the question: What have these two men done to earn the patience and/or the benefit of the doubt from the fanbase? Because, from where I sit, it’s been an unending parade of shit decisions and bad results, and the only reason for keeping them around centers around the fucking sunk cost fallacy.

But hey — maybe if we just drill set pieces a little harder this week, we’ll just lose on open play goals like normal this weekend.

CL3 RUNS INTERVIEW.EXE

I generally don’t give much of a fuck about what sports owners have to say. But, when Carl Lindner opines on the state of FC Cincinnati, I tend to pay attention. This is mostly because Carl Lindner III reminds of someone who learned to be a person by reading the “Human” article on Wikipedia, but also because sometimes you learn something about the headspace of the man signing everyone’s check at the front office. Predictably, the article was filled with a lot of plaudits and praise for the people running the club. I can only assume this is because Carl’s mansion in Indian Hill is completely empty, save for the cord he plugs himself into the wall with every night to recharge (CL3 strikes me as USB-C guy), and he actually hasn’t watched a single minute of any matches this year on TV.

The quote that stood out to me from the article as offering SOME hope was this:

Of course, the threshold for success remains high for Lindner, who said FC Cincinnati having a winning record and possibly being in playoff contention would be reasonable expectations this year.

On the surface you might think to yourself “Self, of course having a winning record should be a reasonable expectation in YEAR FUCKING THREE OF A CLUB.” But, remember, this is Cincinnati and Lindner’s old man was notorious for not giving a fuck about anything other than the team finishing in the black every season.

Honestly? I’d be fucking thrilled with mediocrity. Sign me the fuck up for a team that plays mediocre soccer, draws a lot of matches 2-2 / 3-3 and occasionally snipes a 4-1 win here and there. Fucking love it. That’s where I’m at right now because shit has been so unrelentingly bleak for the past two-plus seasons. Someone saying the expectation is a winning record sounds like billionaire owner pornography to me. The problem is that it needs to be followed through with. The follow up question that I wish Pat had asked was: “Is it fair to say Jaap and Gerard won’t be here if that doesn’t happen?” Because these motherfuckers need to know the seat is hot, and I genuinely don’t think either one of them are feeling an ounce of pressure right now. It’s an outright vacuum when it needs to be fucking Venus at the training facility right now.

I’m bookmarking this article because I’m willing to bet the FC will not have a winning record when the book closes on 20201, and I plan on spamming the link to everyone relentlessly to remind what we were promised.

ORLANDO, THE DREAM OF MORMONS EVERYWHERE

I had us losing to NYCFC 4-2 last week. Ope. I should know by now that the only constant with FC Cincinnati is underperforming even moderate expectations.

Assuming Acosta is a no-go again, I don’t see any way we possess and build any kind of attack. 3-0 loss feels right here.

THEY MADE A MOVIE ABOUT THE FC’S SET PIECE DEFENSE

It’s called “Breakdown.”

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Allright, that's it for this week. Could this be the week we figure out how to stop a free kick that looks like a cross? Tune in and find out. Elbows forever. Baseball field soccer never. See you motherfuckers in the thunderdome!